There are numerous (1, 2, 3) questions concerning this problem. I realize this is a borderline duplicate, but I'll re-iterate the futility of this particular filter and why it should be outright removed from Stack Overflow.

Do you know how effective this is in preventing users who just don't care from posting questions with bad titles? 100% ineffective. What do these users do?

Replace it with a synonym: "issue," "trouble," "predicament," "botheration" or what have you. Or worse, they simply work around the filter by deliberately misspelling the word or inserting space or punctuation:

and the coup de grâce:

I mean, even Jeff saw this coming. This adds zero value to the title. In fact, it looks worse. Why, oh why are people so reluctant to scrap a bad feature? All this does is:

  • Prevent people who have a legitimate need to use the word "problem" in the title from posting questions with an appropriate title.
  • Break the search feature because of workarounds or the need to use less descriptive titles than the error itself

This is an extraordinarily useless (and harmful) feature. Please, for the love of Cthulhu, remove, eliminate, abolish, eradicate, extirpate this "feature" from Stack Overflow.


So I can't mention the Halting Problem in the title? – Keith Thompson Nov 1 at 19:05

@KeithThompson Maybe it's a "Halting Issue". Or "Need help with Halting". Or the "Halting thing in Computability Theory". – slhck Nov 1 at 19:14

  • 25
    Really? Really? Worse than rolling comment timeouts? Worse than vote-undo-locking?! (also: who wouldn't be reluctant to scrape a bad feature? You'd get bad-feature-flakes all over yourself)
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 23:33
  • 77
    @Shog9 I don't know why, but I find rolling comment timeouts mildly amusing. When I get the message "You can post comments every 15 seconds. You've only waited for 14 seconds. Timer reset. Bwahahhaah!" I can't help but chuckle and accept the fact that Jeff deliberately put that in there to troll us. Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 23:37
  • 4
    While I agree with the sentiment stackoverflow.com/questions/3879502/… predates the implementation of this feature by a good 12 months
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 23:53
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    This explains why spelling seems to have gotten much worse recently.
    – sarnold
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 0:32
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    As a continued hater of the springy search bar, I take issue with this post Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 2:25
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    I will repeat my comment from here: > See, my whole point is: If I have a query with 5000 really bad problem titles (and I don't doubt that they're bad), then at least you can tell that they're bad. If you restrict people from using it, there are two possibilities: 1) they use a better title, 2) they use another crappy title without the word "problem". Either way, you can never find out what really happened.
    – slhck
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 11:24
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    So now we have a new problm. What is the advantage? stackoverflow.com/questions/8204197/…
    – Bo Persson
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 21:54
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    I suggest that all questions have the world Problem replaced with random synonyms. I have a printing quandary! Someone help me with this null pointer worriment. PHP has a vexation with this function.
    – Zelda
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 15:23
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    So instead of blocking them outright, why not show them a message on how they should improve their title and unless they fix it the question won't be accepted? Period
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 22:23
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    Totally agree. By trying to prevent noise, the developers opened Pandora Box and created just more noise, of worse type (harder to find now) - newbies are like a force of nature.. if they hit an obstacle they'll just look for a way around. Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 8:35
  • 2
    It's further proof that we've lost sight of the core issue: improving question quality. Question titles are not a problem (ahem) per se, it's the question body. (And yes, I changed my name in protest).
    – MPelletier
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 13:24
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    – thirtydot
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 23:11
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    @thirtydot probrem, problm, probelm . Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 23:35
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    a puzzling circumstance has been to your computer Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 14:39
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    Just came across "prob|em"; brilliant!
    – bfavaretto
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


OK, so Kevin Montrose posted a fairly convincing argument that the title filter is not 100% useless as I originally claimed after all. While I'll concede to his position, I still think users with sufficient reputation (eg: >2k? >3k?) should be allowed to post and edit the question and use whatever titles they see fit.

I find it hard to understand why users who can edit questions (including >20k and diamond mods) and post pretty much whatever they want are still bound by this quality filter. A user with this much reputation should know better than to post a question with a crappy title.

Claiming all restrictions should apply to all users regardless of reputation makes no sense. There are restrictions that apply to new users only. If users are trusted to edit questions without peer review (> 2k), why aren't they trusted to use their judgement when it comes question titles?

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    um, because they'll forget to fix the problem title? We see this all the time, edits that change some trival part of a post (oh, you forgot a period here) while conveniently ignoring the fact that the post is utterly incoherent, full of txt-speak, has an abysmal title, etc. So blocking titles with these strong negative signal words is very much intentional. Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 5:46
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    @JeffAtwood I will update this question and answer with data and facts. And hopefully a solution that addresses all your and Kevin Montrose's concerns. Eventually. Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 6:02
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    @JeffAtwood, even at 20k I'm still not trusted to put the word problem in my titles?
    – Johan
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 23:31
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    Well I don't know about others but this feature caused me to take better care of my titles when I started beeing on SO. And I'm pretty sure that it will cause me to rethink my title every now and then in the future as well. Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 17:14
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    @Jeff Even if they forget to fix the title, isn't the fact that they've improved the post a good enough reason to let the edit through? The question is improved, even if it isn't perfect. I think you're potentially making a big assumption that all such edits (those that exclude fixing the title) are trivial in nature.
    – razlebe
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 9:35
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    That's annoying. So I want to fix some newbie's broken punctuation, but I don't have time to stop and formulate an entirely new title for the post right now. Sorry. Didn't realise I worked for you. Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 11:40
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    @NullUserExceptionอ_อ another post to make your case I tried to add the google-code-jam tag but it won't let me save the edit because of => "problem set" in the title!? Thats perfectly legitimate, I know that and I have nearly 5k rep with the Copy Editor badge? Why shouldn't I be able to override this?
    – gideon
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 4:49
  • @JeffAtwood: Would you please consider implementing something to handle the current hard filter's false positives: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/275204/… Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 20:16
  • @gideon You can click the edit tags button to edit only tags. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 13:44

Another specific use case that this makes awkward is that the Microsoft code analysis tool FxCop contains a type named Microsoft.FxCop.Sdk.Problem. Analysis rules instantiate one and populate it with source location, suggested resolution and so forth upon finding a potential "problem" in the code being analyzed, then toss it into the Problems collection. I've seen at least one FxCop question where this caused awkwardness for the asker.

  • So whitelist it, as @rjzii suggests.
    – smci
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 1:54

First thing that pops in to my mind, is the following: "How hard would it be to white-list this?"

Off the top of my head I can't think of very many situations where the word "problem" is a part of a formal title (Halting Problem, K-server problem) and as it stands right now it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to do a short white-list of phrases that are allowed through (might raise and issue of maintainability, but that can be a problem for the future if it ever comes up). Allowing a finite number of valid situations through and giving the rest a grammatical suggestions popup might resolve the situation.

  • 2
    TSP (Traveling Salesman Problem), Birthday Problem... any more? Microsoft.FxCop.Sdk.Problem from @JeffreyHantin below.
    – smci
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 1:53

Рroblem? No problem!

Class 1: Accents

  • èéêëòóôõöēĕėęěōŏőŕŗř


Class 2: Letters that look alike

  • Ε U+0395 Greek Capital Letter Epsilon
  • Ο U+039F Greek Capital Letter Omicron
  • Ρ U+03A1 Greek Capital Letter Rho
  • ο U+03BF Greek Small Letter Omicron
  • Е U+0415 Cyrillic Capital Letter Ie
  • О U+041E Cyrillic Capital Letter O
  • Р U+0420 Cyrillic Capital Letter Er
  • е U+0435 Cyrillic Small Letter Ie
  • о U+043E Cyrillic Small Letter O
  • р U+0440 Cyrillic Small Letter Er
  • U+1D0F Latin Letter Small Capital O





  • 12
    and at this point, the user has taken actual effort to work things around. Hopefully not more actual effort than was spent writing the question. Mission Accomplished? Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 4:07
  • @JourneymanGeek I did went through "Character Map" in Windows. Did you notice my username? Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 4:10
  • Actual effort ;p And yes, I did Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 4:13
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    But the main problem I see with this is that it breaks search. For example if someone googles an error message that contains a word that has "problem" in it. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 13:42

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